I suffered from severe hypemesis for the first 6 months of my pregnancy. I lost 5 kgs in two months time and it was probably one of the hardest time of my life and unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy the bliss of having become pregnant. Hey-ho! Despite such a difficult pregnancy, my bubba was thriving. I have to say I am very lucky that I had such a great support system around me. My husband worked from home and my friends were there to help me with the kids if need be. It almost felt like a miracle that I was feeling better after the first six months and that I could function normally. I felt I was truly blessed. But those six months of sickness also brought me closer to reality of how things can sometimes not go according to our wishes. I knew then, that I really wanted myself and the baby to be blessed by my closest friends, for the labour day. This was my first pregnancy and first home-birth. I needed all the strength and blessings I could gather for the day.
I am a spiritual person and I wanted to have something holistic to celebrate my pregnancy. I didn’t desire a baby shower. I wanted it to be more special than some dirty jokes, silly games and lots of presents (no offence to people who enjoy that kind of stuff, just not what I desired). I wanted it to be less of a party but more of a spiritual and holistic experience. I wanted to bless the baby and myself. In India, we celebrate pregnancy between 7-9 months. The celebration is called, “Godh Bharai” meaning filling the lap (in this case of a mother t0-be). Mothers are jewelled with flowers, fed her favourite food, blessed and presented with fruits, sweets or a saree. It is considered ominous to bring presents for the unborn baby. And so the day is all about celebrating and pampering the mother and praying for the little ones good health.
I am far away from home, I don’t have enough resources to carry out the same rituals as they would in India. Then I heard about my sister-in-laws blessingway. And I decided to incorporate parts from her blessingway and the Indian ritual together and have a day of fun, bonding and pampering with my friends.
I invited my friends over and had asked them to bring a fruit, a flower and some food to share.
We all gathered around my living room and my mum started making me a tiara with the flowers my friends brought (some other flowers were later pressed in a book, once dry I might stick them on a canvas for our memory box). We had a henna artists who was doing a henna mandala on my belly. Friends were requested to have a small mandala on their hands. In a traditional blessingway, you give your friends a return gift – a common one being a candle that they light when they hear that you have gone into labour. They keep it alight until the baby has arrived representing their spiritual presence on the day sending love and prayers full of strength. But because in my culture, we do not let people know about the crucial moment, it is to be savoured in your own privacy; I thought my friends could have a henna tattoo in solidarity which will last for 2 to 3 weeks within which time I should have had my baby. Everytime they admire the henna, they could say a little prayer for us.
We had a little circle time, in which my husband read aloud a few poems and words of affirmations sent to me by my friends and family members who couldn’t make it. That was followed by a few inspirational stories, birthing experiences and suggestions by my friends. One of the suggestions I got from my friends was to, ‘let go and shout’ and ‘bring out the warrior in you and go raaaaaaaaaaaaa’. That stayed with me and I have to say, ‘letting go and roaring like a tigress’ (as my husband describes it) was the most powerful feeling I had experienced while giving birth. It did help with pain management. It was so lovely to hear such positive and powerful words from my friends that it brought tears in the room. There was so much love in our small circle nest we built that day.
While the readings were taking place, we passed around a big candle that my friends decorated with colourful threads. It was another way of offering their blessings. I was supposed to light that candle when I went into labour and feel the warmth, love and solidarity of my friends.
These rituals were then followed by the Indian ‘Godh Bharai’. This one was interesting for all my foreign friends. This is when they placed a fruit on my lap, fed me some sweets and blessed me with the holy fire and a few kind words. My heart was bursting with warmth.
Lastly, we had food that all my friends brought with them to share. Traditionally in a blessingway, friends bring food that can be frozen. The idea being that the new mother will not have to worry about keeping herself and her family fed. The cooking part of the chore is well taken care of. But I had my mum over, and she had plans to cook and feed me post-delivery of my baby. So I requested my friends to bring something for the blessingway, that way I didn’t have to worry about laying out food for all. It was so delicious and yummy.
Before my friends left, I gave them all a small candle to light at home anytime in the next two weeks with a little prayer for us.
The whole day went so well. It was so important for me to have a blessingway. The day left me with deeper sense of positivity and strength. I felt that I was ready for birthing and lo behold, I went into labour the day after and had a very successful homebirth.